An outbreak of orf in your lambs is bad enough but, when farmers and shepherds contract the disease, it's not only painful but is also extremely contagious.
And what's even more frustrating is that most doctors only seem able to prescribe antibiotics as a treatment.
But for those who handle sheep and contract to orf, help is at hand in the form of a homeopathic remedy - thuja occidentalis.
I speak from experience as many years ago I noticed a small swelling on my thumb. After a visit to the doctor I was told it was nothing to worry about and, after a course of antibiotics, it showed no improvement.
How I came across a homeopathic doctor in Aberystwyth I can't remember, but he immediately prescribed thuja occidentalis. The white sugar-like crystals I was told would initially make me feel unwell and that the swelling would probably increase, before eventually decreasing. And after taking the crystals the orf cleared up quickly.
Only last week I had a phone call from a farmer in Garstang, Lancashire, who had noticed a swelling on the side of his face. Again, after a wrong diagnosis by the doctor and a failed attempt by antibiotics to work, he tried thuja occidentalis crystals, which cleared up the swelling in days.
While this homeopathic remedy is a long-standing, proven cure for orf, it's important to remember this disease is contagious. If lambs are being "scratched" with orf vaccine it's essential the correct procedures are followed and that no scratched lambs are allowed to mix with any untreated lambs.
Likewise, any towels or soap used to wash hands after dealing with lambs - infected, uninfected, scratched or not - should be kept separate from those used by humans.
Thuja occidentalis will cure orf in humans - but an awareness of how contagious this disease can be should be the first part of your defence to avoid contracting it or putting others at risk.